THIS could be the first time in over 100 years that a Cork-born eagle flies again, according to a Beara conservation ranger.
White-tailed eagles have successfully hatched chicks across four counties in Ireland this year, including at Glengarriff in Cork, according to Clare Heardman of the Glengarriff Woods Nature Reserve.
Eight pairs of white-tailed eagles have nested and laid eggs, with five nests successfully hatching chicks in counties Clare, Cork, Galway and Kerry.
Clare told The Southern Star that the first nest to hatch young this year was at Glengarriff, in mid-April with fledging (its first flight) expected in early July, at 11 or 12 weeks old.
Later in April a pair was confirmed to have hatched chicks at their usual nest site on Lough Derg, near Mountshannon in Co Clare. This pair created history in 2013 when they reared the first chicks to fly from a nest in Ireland in over 100 years. The pair also reared the only chick to successfully fledge from a nest in 2014. The pair resident on the Lakes of Killarney in Killarney National Park hatched a chick in early May. Encouragingly two other pairs, one in Galway and another in Kerry both hatched chicks for the first time.
Hopes are high that the five successful pairs will successfully raise chicks that will go on to form the basis of a viable population in Ireland. This would potentially be the first white-tailed eagle chicks to fledge successfully in Kerry, Cork and Galway, Clare already having been successful in 2013 and 2014.
These are the latest chicks of the high profile reintroduction programme which began in 2007 with the release of 100 young Norwegian eagles in Killarney National Park as part of the white-tailed eagle reintroduction programme managed by the Golden Eagle Trust in partnership with the National Parks & Wildlife Service.
‘It has been an incredible experience watching the eagles in Glengarriff working towards what will hopefully be their first breeding success, having lost a chick at two weeks old in 2014 due to bad weather,’ said Clare.
‘After sitting tight on the eggs for over a month, the parents again faced the challenge of keep the chick warm, dry and fed as the weather turned particularly bad at the beginning of May,’ added Clare.
However, the couple demonstrated their greater level of experience as parents and the chick survived the storm.
‘The nestling is looking big and strong now at over six weeks of age, and it is very exciting to think that 2015 could be the first year in over a century that a Cork-born white tailed eagle is seen flying again,’ commented the ranger.
Local parks’ service staff would like to commend the role of local people, in particular the ferry operators in Glengarriff Harbour, for helping ensure the eagles were not disturbed by people out on the water.
‘We would urge anyone interested in seeing the eagles to observe them from a distance,’ Clare added.